Junior lightweight champions Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Diego Corrales moved one step closer to a unification bout with successful defenses of their titles. Corrales showed poise and power while Mayweather wilted under expectations by turning in a dominant, but totally boring, performance.
Matched with former featherweight champ Goyo Vargas, Mayweather returned to the ring after a six month, contract-dispute induced layoff. After only one round of the fight, Mayweather confirmed what everyone expected: that his handspeed was simply too much for Vargas to handle. Whenever Mayweather uncorked a punch, be it a lead left hook or a speedy right down the pike, it was clear that Vargas could not react in time. While a tight defense caught many Mayweather punches, Vargas could not effectively counter Floyd's speed.
In fact, very few punches from either fighter landed in the first several rounds. Despite the tremendous disparity in handspeed, Mayweather never really capitalized on it. Opting to fire only one punch at a time, Mayweather gave Vargas the opportunity to survive behind defense. Vargas began to swing back, but caught only air when Mayweather slipped his attempts with ease. This pattern continued for an excruciating several rounds, including a third round when it seemed neither man landed a clean punch.
Although Vargas was unable to catch Mayweather in the first half of the bout, the object of the crowd's scorn soon became Mayweather. The appearance was that he could take out Vargas, or at least make the bout interesting, by simply following up his single volleys with a few more punches. Completely absent were the multiple combinations that had Jim Lampley screaming "6, 7, 8, 9 punch combination" during Floyd's bout with Genaro Hernandez. Instead, Mayweather kept moving while picking off Vargas with single blows. Floyd may have looked bored in the ring, but I can't remember...I was too bored to take note.
Mayweather headhunted, per usual, except for a beautiful left hook to the liver in the sixth round. The punch, which came after Goyo trapped Floyd in a corner and attempted a body attack of his own, landed flush and dropped Vargas to his knees. It was the only knockdown of the fight.
Things picked up intermittently in the second half of the bout. There was an actual exchange of punches at the end of the seventh round. Later in the ninth, Vargas trapped a resting Mayweather on the ropes for the first minute of the round. Mayweather calmly avoided many of the punches, and when Vargas slowed down he fired back. But after a bit of retaliation, Vargas again threw punches. Volia, an exchange. Mayweather took a good left hook, which supplied a small mouse under his right eye, and Vargas ate a quick left uppercut and a blistering right before the bell halted the lone excitement of the fight.
After that flash of competition, the bout settled back down into neutral. Mayweather moved even more, Vargas threw even less, and the audience let out their catcalls. Boos filled the MGM Grand Arena in each of the last four rounds. Mayweather-Vargas broke the previous booing record, which was held by Byrd- Castillo.
Floyd Mayweather hardly lost a round but it was not a thrilling performance. The less-than-capacity crowd greeted the final bell with absolutely zero reaction. Pretty Boy Floyd may sit near the top of the pound-for-pound list, but he has a lot of work to do before topping fight fans' popularity list.
After the wide decision was announced, Mayweather (23-0/17) expressed interest in a fight with 6' tall Diego Corrales. Corrales needed only three rounds to dispose of Roy Jones' wacky sidekick Derrick "Smoke" Gainer, despite the fact that Jay Nady stopped the fight way too soon.
Gainer, to his credit, came to fight. He looked more muscular than at any time in recent memory, and started the first round by quickly coming at Diego Corrales. Launching Roy Jones-esque lead hooks (but from the right side as Gainer is a lefty), Gainer tagged Corrales a few times in the first round. Corrales kept his hands high, and blocked a portion of Gainer's blows, but the round easily went to Gainer.
In the second round, Gainer was again on his toes and firing long punches from a range. A picture perfect straight left stunned Corrales for a moment in the middle of this stanza. Gainer was slippery for most of the round, but settled on infighting to close the frame. Corrales showed he can throw short punches by landing a few on Gainer when they stood close, and established who the real power puncher was.
Since Gainer was looking good from a distance and tasting Corrales' leather inside, you might think that he would again try and establish a fight more suited to him. But Gainer instead willingly fought in a phone booth with Corrales to begin the third. Ear to ear, the two men leaned on each other and fired body punches and uppercuts. The crowd was quiet as the action was compact and hard to see. Then, out of nowhere, Corrales threw a very short left hook across Gainer's chin and Smoke was on the seat of his pants.
Gainer was stunned, but looked alert as his sat down. Taking his time, Gainer looked to be waiting for the count of eight to begin rising. But when referee Jay Nady reached 8, Gainer was still on his behind, and had to hustle to be up by ten. Nady let the fight continue and Corrales stormed at Gainer. Backing Smoke to the ropes, Corrales unloaded a flurry on the challenger. Many of the punches missed, but a right to the body and a left hook upstairs landed, and Gainer leaned over and appeared to take a knee to stop the barrage. Resting on one knee, Gainer again waited for Nady to reach the mandatory eight before rising to his feet. Then Jay Nady did what he always does: stopped the fight too soon.
Gainer was on his feet at eight, and frankly looked a whole lot better than he did after the first knockdown. Gainer had solid eye contact with Nady, who asked him "How are you?" Gainer replied, "I'm fine." And then Jay Nady said "Nope, fight's over." It was unbelievable. Gainer immediately protested, and soon Murad Muhammed, Roy Jones, Alton Merkerson, and a host of others were in the ring screaming and yelling. And with good reason: the fight should not have been stopped.
Gainer had a difficult task ahead of him. There was plenty of time left in the round, and Corrales likely would have rushed him again and finished the job. But what might have happened pales to what did happen...and what did happen was that a clear headed Gainer gave absolutely zero indication that he couldn't continue. But, this is Jay Nady. Nady always stops the fight too soon. It may be why he's assigned to so many women's fights in Nevada. But this wasn't two boxing hobbyists fighting on a sideshow card. These were two world class fighters vying for a world championship. Gainer was down, but he was not hurt, and Nevada should take a good hard look at Nady's record.
Nady's error bumped Corrales up to a sterling 31-0/24 record. A big money match with Floyd Mayweather is inevitable. With his size, power, and boxing ability, he may give Pretty Boy Floyd the fight of his life. Let's just hope that it happens.
ROUND 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 TOTAL CORRALES 9 9 KO
GAINER 10 10
ROUND 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 TOTAL MAYWEATHER 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 120 GAINER 9 9 9 9 9 8 9 9 9 9 9 9 107 © 2001 Chris Bushnell. All rights reserved.